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The Problem With Iran
By Terrell E. Arnold
This week David De Batto posted an article on rense.com called "An Iran Attack Scenario - A Catastrophe". With his extensive background in intelligence, military service and on the ground service in Iraq, DeBatto makes a compelling case for a colossal global mess. Some might say that he deliberately cobbled together the worst case versions of any disasters that Iran, under attack by two nuclear powers, might inflict in defending itself. However, there is nothing off the screen or beyond the art of the possible in De Batto's house of horrors. Rather, they reflect the possible defensive reactions of a society determined not to be destroyed without a struggle. Iran simply is threatened-has been threatened repeatedly-with "shock and awe" attacks up through and including nuclear by Israel and the United States, while the rest of the world largely stands silently by. The horrors that De Batto describes unfortunately are not beyond the possible reactions of any modern state that is determined to survive such an assault or make its assailants pay.
Such is the profile of modern--to be sure--asymmetric warfare that has flowered in the atmosphere of coercion and bullying that pervades American foreign policy. It is probably true, as many analysts suggest, that no one is likely to take on the world's sole "superpower" in a pitched battle. However, it is equally true that the tools of subversion and unconventional warfare also have flowered. Moreover, all the tools of modern warfare, except perhaps nuclear weapons, have been regularly for sale for some time by-of course-their makers. As De Batto's inventory of awesome devices and gimmicks illustrates, even Iran, an alleged third world country, has a horrifying capability.
Why are the Zionists and their apparent American policy slaves prepared to risk disaster in the process of an attempt that is likely to fail to destroy Iran's nuclear interests or capabilities? The published rationale is that Iran is one of the principal sponsors of international terrorism. The charge typically is made to look as if Iran is simply lashing out without cause by committing or sponsoring terrorism everywhere on the planet. In truth, Iran's focus long has been Palestine. The roots of modern Middle East terrorism lie almost entirely with efforts of Palestinians, sympathetic countries and groups to stop or to promote global attention to Israel's rape of Palestine. They include the spate of American hostage takings in Lebanon during the 1980s, the attempted or actual destruction of four American embassies, the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship, and numerous hijackings of aircraft. Iran's principal link to terrorism is its support for groups involved in many of those attacks.
Israel's singular goal, at least the aim of its Zionist leadership, is to assure that no regional power, regardless of that power's other affiliations, becomes a nuclear challenger. Nuclear monopoly in the region, along with the best military capabilities that Israeli skills and US money, technology and support can develop, provides the cover for continuing Israeli takeover of what is left of Palestine. Even as the Olmert government alleges that it is working with Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to protect Palestinians, Israeli settlements are expanding, more Palestinian lands are either being taken or denied to their owners. Jerusalem is slowly being scrubbed of Palestinians who have had family seats there for centuries. To finalize these evictions Palestinian homes are destroyed, and other Palestinian residents are simply being denied entry. Polite American official protests, rumblings in the UN, or private protests of American churches and others have no effect.
Where any risk whatsoever of a nuclear challenge emerges, Israel simply bombs the facility, as in Iraq, or even a possible facility, as in Syria. In sum, Israeli takeover of the remainder of Palestine is being facilitated by nuclear blackmail.
It is worth looking at the impact of this strategy on surrounding countries. Realistically stated, Israel simply is operating as a rogue state. It can do so with impunity so long as it has exclusive regional nuclear power and the unwavering backing of the United States. But its strategy has a perverse effect: With or without the blessing of outsiders, including other nuclear powers or the UN, Middle Eastern countries will simply keep trying to gain mastery of nuclear technology. Working under the apparent microscope of world attention only makes the task more difficult. It does not make acquiring nuclear technology impossible, because so much of the knowledge is already on the street.
The more Israel uses nuclear blackmail to try to keep the other Middle East states in line, the more attractive non-nuclear states see nuclear weapons as a power tool, and the more dedicated becomes the effort of some countries to acquire nuclear technology. Eventually some of them will succeed, because key components of the technology are worth a great deal more than gold, and somebody will figure out how to get those pieces and sell them.
The critical problem, therefore, is the environment. Much of the tussle with Iran centers on what the Iranians have the right, opportunity and will to do or to know.
The first environmental fact is information flow. Since creation of the Internet, more and more of the technology for making nuclear weapons has made its way to websites. The search term "nuclear technologies" alone brings up more than three million references. "Nuclear weapons" will bring up over twelve million references. Those, of course, are the accessible sites. Much of that information is not about details of technology, but one can learn a lot. Thus, a lot of what anyone needs to know is common currency.
The second environmental fact is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Unfortunately, few seem to know what the treaty says about peaceful nuclear programs. Article IV, paragraph 1 says "Nothing in this treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the *inalienable right* of all the parties to this Treaty *to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination*." The treaty does not say anywhere that the fuel cycle is off limits. Note that the right is "inalienable", meaning essentially that it cannot be redefined or revoked by any other member.
So long as they stick to "peaceful purposes", the Iranian argument is that, as a signatory of the Treaty, they have a right to proceed without interference. The issue is the requirement for transparency. That is where the oversight of the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) comes into play. Here, compared to weapons owning states, the Iranian record is good. It is not perfect, but far more is readily known about Iranian nuclear programs and activities than the public knows about the three non- treaty weapons owners (India, Pakistan, and Israel). The IAEA has no access to those programs, and it has no oversight of the weapons programs of any nuclear club members (US, Britain, France, China, and Russia). This lopsided information universe is simply not conducive to openness. It is even less so when nuclear weapons states threaten non-nuclear states.
The third environmental fact, therefore, is the threat gradient. The most certain way to convince a country that it needs better weapons and defenses is to attack it or threaten it. As Saddam Hussein learned, once attacked it is too late. In the Iran case, the evidence accumulates that Iranian leadership sees the country subject to attack and is preparing accordingly. If, as its political and religious leadership assert, it is not interested in nuclear weapons, constant US and Israeli threats could persuade Iranians to change their minds. At the very least, the constant US/Israeli harassment could cause them to hedge their bets; go for capabilities that permit either peaceful programs or moves toward weaponization. Their large banks of centrifuges for fuel refining suggest they are giving themselves the option. At the very least, US and Israeli threats have pushed the Iranians toward extensive investments in conventional weaponry. That includes missiles that are capable of reaching Israel. Some accounts suggest there are enough of these to destroy the country.
In this perspective, US and Israeli threats emerge as self-fulfilling prophecies. Much if not all of the problem with Iran is in the heads of US and Israeli officials, or in the minds of neo-cons and other think tankers who have fabricated and embellished the Iran "threat" since the beginning of the George W. Bush administration.
Perhaps the ultimate flaw is in the Israeli negotiating style that the Bush team seems also to prefer. Under that style, both the US and Israel insist that concessions in advance of negotiations are mandatory. That posture has not worked either with the Palestinians or the Iranians, but no one seems to notice. Hamas, whose leaders best characterize the Palestinian negotiating position, refuses to affirm Israel's right to exist in advance of negotiations. The Iranians refuse to stop refining nuclear fuel in advance of negotiations. Whether Iran would be satisfied with reliance on third parties for nuclear fuel is a matter for diplomatic discovery, but under the Bush administration the US does not talk to its enemies. While stealing the remainder of Palestine, successive Israeli administrations refuse to make meaningful concessions to anybody. Herein lies the problem with Iran.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning. He will welcome comment at wecanstopit@charter.net
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